“HE'S AS DYNAMIC AS THEY GET"
As interest began to percolate, Dexter McCoil was back home in Gonzalez, Louisiana, hours filled by the non-profit foundation for disadvantaged youth he’s established – G4WYW, short for Grind For What You Want – and enjoying time with his one-year-old son and namesake.
“Oh, I was busy. Definitely busy,’’ the wide-wingspan linebacker is saying, the day following the 21-16 at B.C. Place that cinched a home playoff date for the Calgary Stampeders this coming Sunday. “But I knew J.C. (Sheritt), of course. And I was talking to their personnel people.
“In the end, it wasn’t an easy decision, leaving my son, my family, my business. This is the first time playing football that I’m far, far away from (Dexter Jr.).
“But this is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I knew football wasn’t over for me. Everything in life is about opportunity.
“When they’re there, in front of you, you gotta seize them.
“And it’s been a blessing, man.
“These are playoffs coming up. Where every detail – looking at film, making adjustments, being at your best – matters.
“Everybody gotta be on their Ps and Qs now. This is the time when your game has to elevate.
McCoil’s two seasons as an Edmonton Eskimo certainly elevated him to prominence. A CFL Rookie of the Year award and league All-Star Team Selection in 2014. The next year, helping the Chris Jones-piloted Eskimos to the 2015 Grey Cup title.
Since leaving Edmonton, McCoil enjoyed extended spell with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers, playing in 26 games.
Ten days after signing on here as a free agent Oct. 22nd, McCoil made his first significant on-field contribution modelling Red and White, stepping in to end any B.C. hopes of a last-gasp comeback, intercepting a Brandon Bridge pass and returning it to the Lions’ 10-yard line.
“To be honest, every time a linebacker makes a play, I get pretty excited,’’ says Stampeder linebacking coach J.C. Sherritt, a teammate of McCoil’s those two years at Commonwealth Stadium. “But to see him come in and right away make an impact to help us win a game was huge.
“You had to feel so good for him.
“That guy deserves everything that comes his way.”
McCoil says the moment was welcome but …
“I already felt a part of this,” he insists. “The camaraderie goes well beyond the field. We’re getting to know each other, building those bonds.
“But it was nice, the (interception). You could tell that everybody was happy for me.”
Given their northern title ties, Sherritt, naturally, was part of the pitch-party that initially reached out to gauge McCoil’s interest.
“Anything done in this organization involves multiple people,’’ says the first-year coach. “I played a part of it because of our friendship. But only a part.
“The fortunate thing for me is that we had established a relationship where I could be frank with him about what kind of a situation he was going into, what kind of an organization he was joining.
“He knows me.”
And knowing him, the league’s 2012 Most Outstanding Defensive Player honouree understood the skill set and intangibles McCoil could bring to the Stamps.
“He’s as dynamic as they get,’’ lauds Sherritt. “To say the least. I remember one game, against (Toronto), Odell (Willis) tipping the ball up, lateraling it over to Dexter, and him running it to The House.
“With his (6-foot-4) size, to be able to move the way he does, excel inside the box, out of the box … well, he’s just a special player.
“The thing with tall guys like him, they have a hinderance to their game. He doesn’t. He’s that tall but he can also just flat-out ball.”
Naturally, as his first CFL post-season journey in four years beckons, McCoil’s thoughts invariably drift back to that championship run in 2015, Edmonton toppling the Ottawa Redblacks 26-29 at IG Field at Winnipeg in the 103rd Grey Cup.
“I remember certain times in the game where we had to step up and face adversity, but nobody hung their heads and we came together as a team,’’ recalls McCoil.
“We were so tight. So close.
“I see a lot of similarities in this group, in terms of the brotherhood, the encouragement everybody gives each other to be better.
“They know how to win here.
“I’ve got one Grey Cup ring.
“I’d like to add another to my collection.”